Vitale Timeline Raises More Questions
(Editor’s Note: This is the second article in a series on the findings of the town of Rosman’s failed attempt to purchase the foreclosed Peter Vitalie property.)
One of the stated reasons the town of Rosman was unable to close the contract on the Peter Vitalie property was the possible contamination of the property. But according to the timeline established by former Brevard Chief of Police Dennis Wilde, who was subcontracted to investigate the town’s handling of the proposed purchase, the environmental information was available months before Rosman terminated its contract offer.
According to Wilde’s timeline of events, a Phase I environmental site assessment of the property was prepared for Zions Bank of Salt Lake City, Utah, on March 18, 2010. Another limited subsurface investigation was prepared for Zions Bank on May 28, 2010. Both of these assessments were done before Zions Bank, which held the note on the property, decided to foreclose on GA Enterprises, better known as the Peter Vitalie Company.
In his timeline, Wilde notes that the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources released two reports about the site that were available to the public upon request. These reports were available on June 10, 2010, the same month that Zions Bank foreclosed on the property.
While the environmental reports were available to the public in early June of 2010, Wilde’s report and public comments made at Rosman Board of Aldermen meetings indicate that Rosman officials did not receive these environmental reports until mid-December, some six months after they were made available to the general public.
Minutes from county commission closed session on Oct. 18, 2010 reveal that County Manager Artie Wilson said that there were sawdust and toxic materials on the site that needed to be removed and that the site required more investigation.
According to Wilde’s report and minutes from the Transylvania Board of Commissioners minutes, Wilson apprised the commissioners of the Phase I environmental site assessment on Nov. 22, 2010, a few weeks before Rosman representatives received the information.
Wilde’s timeline shows that Rosman Mayor Brian Shelton signed a contract with Zions Bank to purchase the property for $450,000 on Dec. 8, 2010. The property was to be sold “as is” with a closing date no later than Dec. 23, 2010. However, the timeline also states that the Phase I environmental site assessment and limited subsurface investigation were not received by Rosman’s town clerk until Dec. 14, 2010.
At the aldermen’s June 14, 2011 meeting, however, Shelton said that the town did not receive the information until five days later on Dec. 19. With just four days before the desired closing, the town did not have enough time to determine how much it would cost to clean up the site.
On Dec. 20, 2010, a letter was sent to the bank saying the town needed to determine the cleanup costs prior to purchasing the property.
According to Wilde’s timeline, town attorney Donald Barton said he was directed by Shelton to write the letter, but Shelton said it was a joint decision.
On Jan. 8, 2011, Shelton terminated the contract and requested that $10,000 in earnest money be returned to the town.
Twelve days later the property was purchased by Blue Mountain Dynamics LLC for $299,000. Not only did Rosman’s Board of Aldermen and Transylvania Board of Commissioners receive information about the possible environmental contamination at the site at different times, but they also were bidding against each other for the property.
The aldermen apparently considered using the site as a community center while the commissioners worked with the school board on the possibility of using the building as a new CTE (Career and Technical Education) building.
In July of 2010 the aldermen authorized Shelton to bid up to $550,000 for the building and property. Even though the asking price was $900,000, according to Wilde’s report, Shelton offered $450,000 to Curtiz Burge, who was handling the sale of the property.
On Oct. 18, 2010, the commissioners agreed to offer $500,000 for the property.
It was noted at the time that one other offer had been made on the property, but it was not mentioned that the town of Rosman had made the offer.
Zions Bank replied to the commissioners with an offer of $650,000 with 60 days for due diligence and a deposit of $25,000.
The commissioners, Wilde reports, kept their same offer of $500,000 with a 90-day inspection period and $5,000 in earnest money.
The day after Shelton signed the contract with Zions Bank, according to Wilde, the commissioners were still discussing the possible purchase of the property.
At that Dec. 9, 2010 meeting, Wilson told the commissioners that Zion’s latest counteroffer was $595,000.
On Dec 13, 2010, Blue Ridge Savings Bank committed to finance up to $400,000 for the town of Rosman to purchase the property.
Wilde’s report states that there is “no record of bid proposals from other banks.”